Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill returns to practice Thursday, says he’ll play vs. Patriots

MIAMI GARDENS — Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill returned to the team’s Thursday practice after missing Wednesday’s session.

Hill, after making it through Sunday night’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, popped up on the Wednesday injury report with a hip ailment after he wasn’t seen at the week’s first practice ahead of Sunday’s home game against the New England Patriots.

Hill’s status for Sunday is still not known. He was officially a limited participant in Thursday drills, according to the team’s injury report.

For Hill’s part, he said he’ll be ready to play against New England.

“I’m good, baby,” he responded to a question about his status as part of a playful interview at his locker room that revealed little to nothing about his hip.

“I just wanted some attention because my mom wouldn’t talk to me (Wednesday),” he said of his practice absence.

Hill said part of what he did Wednesday was spend time with his kids preparing for Halloween.

“I got a crazy costume that I just ordered online,” Hill said. “I’m thinking of wearing it to the game.”

Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith declined to touch on Hill’s availability at his Thursday morning news conference, deferring to coach Mike McDaniel on injuries. McDaniel last spoke before Wednesday’s practice when Hill was first identified as missing with the ailment. He is next scheduled to speak to reporters Friday.

Hill’s outlook appeared more grim Wednesday than it does after his appearance Thursday. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said Wednesday Hill would be back “somewhere down the line,” which seemed to possibly insinuate a lengthier recovery.

If Hill is able to play against New England, the Dolphins get their No. 1 pass-catcher in a seven-time Pro Bowler who is on pace for more than 2,000 receiving yards this season with a league-leading 902 through seven games.

Miami quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell said there should be no change in Tagovailoa’s progressions at the position whether Hill plays or not.

The matchup against New England and coach Bill Belichick, though, figures to be difficult. Hill’s lowest receiving total of the season came in the Dolphins’ first meeting with the Patriots, Sept. 18 in Foxborough. He finished with 40 yards on five catches. But Belichick’s focus on Hill could open things up for other pass-catching targets.

Also back at practice after missing Wednesday were running back Raheem Mostert (ankle), safety Jevon Holland (concussion protocol), fullback Alec Ingold (foot) and offensive lineman Robert Jones (personal reasons). All were limited, according to the injury report, except Jones, who has been removed from the listing.

Dolphins cornerback Cam Smith missed practice Thursday after suffering the foot injury he has on the injury report in Wednesday’s practice, according to defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

Also limited Thursday were cornerback Xavien Howard (groin), center Connor Williams (groin), wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (back), cornerback Kader Kohou (neck) and cornerback Nik Needham (Achilles). Cornerback Jalen Ramsey (knee), who is seeing an uptick in practice reps working toward a return to game action this week, went through a second consecutive limited practice, as did wide receiver River Cracraft, who is also designated to return from his shoulder injury and in a 21-day practice window which opened Wednesday.

Fangio nuggets

Fangio was pleased with the defensive performance and overall strides made with the unit off Sunday night’s 31-17 loss in Philadelphia.

“We had the touchdown, the strip sack by Bradley (Chubb) set up the other three points, so we kind of scored 10 points,” Fangio said Thursday. “We were a play or two away from having a great performance. We just let a couple of plays get away from us.”

Fangio feels he has been getting better play at inside linebacker from the combination of David Long Jr. and Jerome Baker. Baker scored the touchdown on a pick-six off a deflection from cornerback Kader Kohou.

“I think David has been improving all along here the last couple of weeks. Hopefully he can keep doing that,” Fangio said. “And Bake has been playing better the last couple of weeks too.”

Off Chubb’s two-sack performance, Fangio said the edge rusher he had since his days in Denver has been consistently good all season.

As Holland is in concussion protocol, if he can’t play Sunday, Fangio said he’d start Brandon Jones and go from there. Once he has Ramsey and Howard, the defensive coordinator said Kohou would make the best nickel corner with others, including Needham, available as backups.

He also said it’s been a long time since second-year linebacker Channing Tindall has gotten defensive snaps in practice, participating solely on special teams of late.

Linebackers coach’s aspirations

Before Fangio was hired as defensive coordinator, Dolphins linebackers coach Anthony Campanile was an internal candidate interviewed for the job in the aftermath of ex-coordinator Josh Boyer’s firing.

Campanile said Thursday he aspires to one day become an NFL defensive coordinator, but he has benefited from working under Fangio this season.

“Everybody who’s in this business, obviously, that’s always an aspiration, I’m sure, for a lot of guys,” Campanile said. “I appreciate Mike (McDaniel) for giving me the opportunity, and I think the best thing to come out of that opportunity was getting the opportunity to work with Vic, to be with somebody who’s as seasoned and just someone who’s been around and seen it from every angle for so long.

“He’s been so open and helpful to me and to all the coaches. I’ve really enjoyed that process.”